By Christopher Bunch
Published: 25th February 2019
In 1859, as a result of the perceived threat to Great Britain from the large increase in conscript armies on the Continent and especially the growing power of France, and given further impetus by a public outcry for improvements in the Country’s defence, a new Rifle Volunteer Movement, based on that of the Napoleonic Wars, was quickly formed to great popular enthusiasm.
This led, in the same year, to the formation of the National Rifle Association designed to encourage rifle shooting by the establishment of a great annual National Rifle Meeting open to both Volunteers and all-comers. There marksmen could compete for valuable prizes. To achieve this it was necessary to ensure that the location, initially on Wimbledon Common and later at Bisley, was readily accessible by train.
An extraordinary relationship now developed between the Association and the London and South Western Railway Company, and its successors, in fulfilling these aims. The culmination of this was the construction of the Bisley Camp Tramway which connected the L&SWR mainline at Brookwood with the NRA Camp. Interlinked with this is the fascinating story of the Association’s own unique tramways. These carried competitors and spectators to the more distant ranges as well as targets to the butts and for mobile targets. The military extensions to the Camp Tramway in both World Wars are also covered.
The book relates the history of the NRA and its tramways from its foundation until the end of the twentieth century largely through contemporary letters, documents and photographs.